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Saturday, September 23, 2023

Tinubu’s Minister’s to receive N1.37b as accommodation amid hardship in Nigeria



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Nyesom Wike, David Umahi, and other 43 President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s ministers-designate will receive nothing less than N1.37bn as accommodation allowance in four years. This means housing allowances for the newly appointed ministers may cost the country about N343.25m yearly.

Reports has indicated that the allowances are based on data collated from a document obtained from the website of the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Commission.

This  covers allowances for accommodation (200 percent of basic salary), domestic staff (75 percent of basic salary), utilities (30 percent of basic salary), and furniture (300 percent of basic salary).

Unlike other allowances paid monthly, furniture allowance is usually paid once in four years.

Tinubu on August 17, 2023, unveiled the portfolios of his ministers. It was noted that the names of a former Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, a former National Women Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Stella Okotete, and a ministerial nominee from Taraba State, Danladi Abubakar were missing in the list.

Earlier, the Senate had withheld the confirmation of the three owing to security checks.

In the list of Tinubu’s ministerial portfolios, it was observed that 13 of the nominees were appointed Ministers of State while some new ministries were also created. One of which is the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy to be headed by Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo.

Tinubu set the record for the highest number of ministerial nominees in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic (1999 to date) with 48, which experts said would likely worsen the high governance costs.

The President’s nominees topped the 42 appointed by his predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari, in 2019 by five more persons.

Tinubu first nominated 28 persons to be cleared by the Senate as ministers. The President also sent another list of 19 nominees, making a total of 47 potential cabinet members.

However, Tinubu withdrew the nomination of Maryam Shetty as a ministerial nominee from Kano State and replaced her with Dr Mariya Mahmoud Bunkure, also from Kano State. He also added the name of Festus Keyamo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria from Delta State, as a nominee for screening.

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In his first term, Buhari named 36 ministers, while the number increased to 42 during his second term.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011 named 33 nominees to be ministers in his cabinet, including nine from the Umar Yar’Adua administration.

In 2007, Yar’Adua named a 39-member cabinet made up of 32 men and seven women.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo initially named 42 ministers in 1999 but reviewed his cabinet to reduce the number of ministries and ministers to 27 and 40, respectively, before he left office in 2007.

Despite calls to reduce the cost of governance, Tinubu has now surpassed Obasanjo, Yar’Adua, Jonathan and Buhari to nominate 48 would-be ministers, setting a new record since the country returned to democracy 24 years ago.

However, with the three yet to be approved, the total number of ministers has dropped to 45, which still exceeds previous administrations.

It was learnt that each minister is entitled to an accommodation allowance of N4.05m, domestic staff allowance of N1.52m, and utilities allowance of N0.61, alongside furniture allowance of N6.08m, which is paid once in four years.

Each minister of state is entitled to an accommodation allowance of N3.92m, domestic staff allowance of N1.47m, and utilities allowance of N0.59, alongside furniture allowance of N5.87m, which is paid once in four years.

An analysis of the figures showed that each minister is expected to get annually a total of N7.7m while each minister of state is expected to get a total of N7.45m annually.

In four years, each minister gets N30.8m while each minister of state gets N29.8m.

In total, the 32 ministers will cost the country about N985.6m while the 13 ministers of state will gulp about N387.4m in four years.

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This further means that the 45 ministers would cost the country a total of N1.37bn in four years.

The figure is expected to increase after the approval of the three pending ministerial nominees, amid calls for a reduction in the cost of governance.

An economist, Prof Akpakpan Edet, earlier stated that the increase in the number of ministers was unnecessary and would escalate the cost of governance.

He said, “What they have done is dangerous. For a long time, we have been complaining about the cost of governance. We looked at the number of institutions that they had and then said the government should reduce them. And they did, but there were so many overlaps. To now talk of 48 ministers doesn’t make sense.

“The implication is that they will further increase the cost of governance. At this level of our democracy, we don’t need this number of ministers; you can merge the ministries and still get the functions delivered. We need a leaner but very effective government.”

An economist, Deborah Oluwagbenga, also said that Nigeria was not in a financial state to employ the services of many ministers.

She stated, “Let’s not forget that this country is in huge debt and the best way to go is to reduce the cost of governance. If the President is appointing this huge number of aides, he’s already laying a foundation for governors to do the same.

“This is not developmental and can crush the economy of the country. What we should be looking at this time is to ensure that we reduce our expenses and try to make good use of what we have in areas that need adjustments. We cannot continue like this.”

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